• Image about Kiki Nesbitt

Cirque du Soleil gives up the big top for its new show, Delirium. We have an inside look at the fantastic result.

With its global beats and Fellini-esque visuals, Cirque du Soleil isn't the most obvious candidate for household-name status. But after 22 years, a lucrative Las Vegas residence, and more than a few jokes at its expense, the Montreal-based company has become synonymous with theatrical wonder.

The newest show is Delirium, currently touring North America. This time, Cirque du Soleil has abandoned its trademark big top for arena stages, allowing a much bigger audience as well as a grander spectacle. The main character floats around the stage in a rippling balloon while giant projections splash across screens, floors, and even the audience.

"It's a fascinating feast for the eyes," says Delirium executive producer Kiki Nesbitt. The ambitious production proved to be a challenge for even the seasoned hands at Cirque, with two tons of equipment to assemble in each city, including massive rail bridges that bisect the stage. Nesbitt calls creators Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon "a two-man orchestra" who combine technical and visual mastery to create a symphony of light, sound, and otherworldly acrobatics. But it's not just eye candy - there's actually a story behind all the awe-inspiring stunts.

"It's what we would call an urban tale, about a main character who lives mostly in his head," says Nesbitt. "We live in a virtual world where fewer and fewer people talk to each other, and the story concerns this quest for balance." But mostly, the show just looks really cool.

(Above) Behold the emerging 80-foot volcanic dress, a structural feat by costume designer Michel Robidas, who has designed outfits for French-Canadian divas such as Céline Dion, Diane Dufresne, and Ginette Reno.